Corporate social responsibility

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EESC opinion: Corporate social responsibility

Key points

  • The EESC commends the Commission on its commitment to fostering responsible business practice;
  • The EESC notes that the European Commission respects the voluntary nature of CSR (which is different from "non-engaging"), and that it highlights the fact that progress has been made in building awareness of CSR at company level;
  • The Commission’s action plan reflects mainly the old (and now abandoned) definition of CSR and reads as a mere continuation of the promotional activities of the past ten years. The Committee would rather have expected plans pertaining to what should be new in the "renewed strategy";
  • CSR is a sustainable development approach and the benefits of CSR activity should promote the positive role companies play in society, which go beyond purely economic values;
  • The Committee supports the initiative to revise the 2003 directive, and proposes that companies that make CSR a key feature of their strategy or communication should produce social and environmental information each year using transparent and evidence-based methods;
  • The EESC believes that the CSR discourse should be constructively reframed to identify enterprises as community stakeholders;
  • CSR is a highly important area of civil dialogue experimentation in some companies, enabling external stakeholders to evaluate their responsibility in terms of their impact on society;
  • The Committee agrees with the Commission that respect for applicable legislation and for collective agreements between social partners is a prerequisite for meeting the responsibility enterprises have for their impact on society;
  • The Commission must acknowledge the value and importance of the social economy sector in terms of engaging with the CSR agenda;
  • Female representation in the boardroom and CSR are proven to be linked with gender-inclusive leadership having a positive impact on CSR;
  • The European Union should be urged to promote and to protect authoritative international frameworks for CSR;
  • The Committee points out that CSR practices must not under any circumstances seek to substitute national legislation or water down the content of conventional agreements reached through social dialogue procedures. To this end, the Committee warmly welcomes the proposal to create a database to analyse and monitor the content of internationally-negotiated agreements (IFA) that are part of the social and environmental regulation of globalisation.